Axl Rose stories are the stuff of rock and roll legend. The lead singer of Guns N' Roses has led such a colorful life even his roadies got in on the action, as evidenced by Axl Rose roadie stories circling the globe. Whether he's starting random fights, walking off stage in the middle of concerts, felling winged creatures with shotguns, or showing up hours late for commitments, all the crazy Axl Rose stories you've heard are true, and completely insane.
Guns N' Roses shot to stardom during the spandex-and-glitter nightmare carnival of hair metal, in 1987, and offered a dirty, rough, violent antidote to the empty calories of glam sleeze's nonsense confections. Like many bands of the era, they were known for hard partying, their days and nights saturated with alcohol, drugs, women, and excess.
Frontman Axl Rose, who was born William Bruce Rose on February 6, 1962 in Lafayette, Indiana, announced himself as a volatile presence as soon as GnR's worldwide dominance began; a new bizarre Axl Rose scandal seemed to emerge every week. The volatility of the band as a whole, and its individual members, added to the excitement of their music and shows. The self-destructive energy Axl channeled into his music led him to the top, and kept him from staying there.
The Axl Rose weird stories on this list demonstrate his unpredictable mood swings; several tales of Axl Rose fights pit him against other celebrities. Even true fans may be surprised at these crazy stories about one very wild rock star.
Among the many things Axl Rose is known for is tardiness. He likes showing up late, sometimes hours so. A DJ from Tampa, Florida, witnessed this punctuality problem firsthand in 1991, while working as an assistant to a venue owner. As the witness tells it:
When the owner asked why Axl was being late for the thousandth time, he said: "Axl’s management said he was watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, and that Axl’s attention was 100% on the movie and couldn't be bothered."
Here's a video of Vanilla Ice performing in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, if you need a refresher on that cinematic masterpiece.
When stories about an artist's legendary feats of insanity make their rounds among the world's roadies, the tale is probably pretty crazy. When roadies turn a story into a verb, it must be an epic to rival the tales of Homer. Such is the case with "yellow-jacketing," a term used by roadies that began with Axl Rose.
Interviewing real roadies before his catastrophic foray into television (Roadies), filmmaker Cameron Crowe discovered the origins of the term, as well as a brand new crazy account for the Axl Rose record books. As Crowe tells it:
I heard some roadies talking about how something had to be "yellow-jacketed" and I [asked] "What is yellow-jacketing?" They said, "There was a guy that worked with Guns N’ Roses, and there was a show and Axl Rose needed a yellow jacket that he’d left in England before he would perform. So a roadie was given the job to get on a plane as fast as possible, go to London, find Axl Rose’s yellow jacket, and come back so he could play the show."
Axl frequently delayed the start of GnR shows with a ridiculous excuses, so when he made a special order food request minutes before he was supposed to go on stage before a crowd of 80,000 in Buenos Aires in July 1993, his assistant, Craig Duswalt, panicked, but wasn't surprised. The rest of the band was already at the venue. Rose was at his hotel, craving chili and cheese, which wasn't on the room service menu.
Duswalt knew the show would never go on if Rose didn't get what he wanted, so he explained, as best he could, to the hotel kitchen staff exactly what Axl wanted. An hour later, a platter was delivered to the room containing a chunk of cheese with a few chili peppers. Duswalt smashed the dish against the wall to distract Rose, and blamed the hotel for screwing up the order. Rose forgot his craving, and the show went on.
A lot went wrong when two of the biggest heavy bands in the world, Metallica and Guns N' Roses, rolled into Montreal on August 8, 1992. During Metallica's set, James Hetfield was seriously burned on stage in a pyrotechnic accident, cutting short Metallica's show. While Hetfield was rushed to the hospital, promoters tried to get GnR onstage, which took two hours and 15 minutes to accomplish.
Guns N' Roses only played nine songs that night (usual set lists on the tour ran almost 20 songs). The band was off kilter from the start. Axl was having trouble with the monitor speakers and, instead of finding someone to fix the issue, broke his microphone, sat down on the monitors, then walked off stage, never to return. His bad performance may have been a self-fulfilling prophecy - he apparently believed "bad juju" befell the band in cities beginning with "M".
Fans rioted when they realized GnR wasn't coming back to the stage. Piles of t-shirts were set on fire, police cars were overturned, and the stadium's souvenir shop was looted. Backstage, Axl drank champagne with groupies while his management spatted with the concert promoters, and the rest of the band partied like it was 1999.